Women find it easy to do business in developing countries

Deauville, October 15:

Women in developing countries find it easier to break through the so-called glass ceiling than their colleagues in the west, according to a global study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The firm interviewed more than a hundred business people across eight countries, including China, India and Germany, for the report on women’s economic participation for the Women’s Forum held in Deauville, France, over the weekend.

The study said, “Our discussions with interviewees suggested that in developed countries, cultural stereotypes and perceptions may represent greater barriers to full economic participation by women than in many of the developing countries.”

There was ‘considerable optimism’ expressed by interviewees in developing countries regarding the growth of women’s participation in the workplace — not just in the numbers entering the workforce but also their entry into middle and senior management.

Samuel DiPiazza, global head of PwC, said, “The cu-ltural and societal norms and perceptions in develo-ped states are much deeper and long-lasting, especially when it comes to business.”

“In some countries such as Germany and Switzerland, there are cultural and social perceptions of women that make advancement much more challenging. Whereas in the developing world, where there is a huge cry for talent, where there is enormous growth, you must be able to adjust to thesenorms faster.”

The study found that government policies in some countries had played a positive role in increasing women’s participation in business.

In China, one child policy was established to control population growth, but the Chinese interviewees saw it as having a positive effect on women’s participation in workforce. Families with a daughter, for example, have been active in promoting gender equality, which has brought a shift of perceptions in the country. They have also lavished investment on education for their single child, male or female.

In addition, daughters do not have to compete with male siblings for parental recognition, which has translated into higher self-esteem for women.

Elisabeth Kelan, the German head of research at the Lehman BrothersCentre for Women in Business at the London Business School, pointed out that her country might be led by one of the most powerful women in the world — Chancellor Angela Merkel — but women were still seen in a bad light if they work for the first six years of their child’s life.

“In Germany, we have the concept of the raven mother, which suggests they abandon their child if they go to work.” As a result, less than 16 per cent of German women with children below six work full-time.